Saturday, October 17, 2009

"Evidence and facts aren't enough to deter the perseverance of false beliefs."

UPDATE 1:45 PM Saturday [below]

Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist on Thursday spoke to his fellow Tennesseans about their ignorance. Well, actually to the ignorant Republicans of that state, although I would imagine that his concern about ignorance might tap the entire national Republican Party.

Frist addressed the ignorance of half of the Republicans in his state who 'believe' that President Obama was born in Kenya and is therefore not eligible to be president. The birthers, of course.
A recent survey conducted by Middle Tennessee State University demonstrates the extent to which "evidence and facts aren't enough to deter the perseverance of false beliefs." According to the survey, "34% of Tennessee adults believe that President Obama was born in another country. 47% of Republicans hold that belief. About a third -- 30% -- say Obama is a Muslim. 46% -- and this includes many Democrats and independents -- say he's a socialist."

"Evidence and facts aren't enough to deter the perseverance of false beliefs." Ain't that the truth?

Earlier in the month, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham called the birthers "crazy" and told them to "knock the crap off." This past week, the South Carolina Republican was shouted down by town hall protesters for his position on climate change legislation. Sen. Graham remarked, "We're not going to be the party of angry white guys," Graham responded. "If you don't like it, you can leave."

Imagine that! Both Frist and Graham, along with numerous other GOP leaders, worry that their party has been essentially purged of level-headed, thoughtful people, and now is essentially a party of angry men who 'believe' what talk show hosts tell them.

"Evidence and facts aren't enough to deter the perseverance of false beliefs."

I could not have predicted, when I came of age back in the 1950's, that the Republican Party that I knew then, the party of Robert Taft, Nelson Rockefeller, Dwight Eisenhower, Everett Dirksen and Margaret Chase Smith, would shrink to the knot of angry dolts of today. Never!

In my last post, I showed the map of states [red] that did not give up their interracial ban on marriage until the Federal government forced them to do so. One clearly notes that these are the traditionally Republican states. The one to one correspondence begs comparison. What is it about 'The South' in general and 'false beliefs?' Do parents continue to teach their children these same 'false beliefs' from one generation to the next? Surely, the public schools do not spread such ignorant pap to the pupils.

Why can we peg so many Southerners with the statement, "Evidence and facts aren't enough to deter the perseverance of false beliefs." Two southern senators decry and confront the current state of their [southern] party.

I often bristle at the word, 'beliefs.' My mind goes directly to religion, to that list of 'beliefs' that churches demand of the congregation. A few days ago, I presented this piece by Sam Harris of the Reason Project that completed a study that shows people of faith take their "belief without evidence" as fact. The trite statement, 'don't confuse me with the facts,' comes to mind.

It may lead one to conclude that this southern dilemma that the GOP is currently battling may not, in fact, be solvable. Because the South is also known as the Bible Belt, the people there may be easily duped, bamboozled by shysters who know that these folks, especially, are essentially sponges for half-truths.

That's my conjecture and I have data to back it up. After all, one can correctly equate the statement in the title with religious believers, and it is one small step from there to the 'birthers' and 'deathers' and the grand Tea Party folks of this past summer.

UPDATE 1:45 Saturday

While noticing on the blogs at right, I clicked on Pharangula's post, "Believers in Holy Ghosts..." and found a link to the Baptist Standard, speaking on the topic of gullible Christians that says, David Gushee, a Baptist ethicist at Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology in Atlanta, agreed Christians who spread tall tales by e-mail reflect a significant slice of American culture and act out of deep emotion.

“Certainly, many Christians seem attracted to conspiracy theories and urban myths and these mass e-mails that propagate them,” he said. “But I am not sure if that is because they are Christian or because they are just Americans of a certain type—people who feel angry about the way the world is, who feel alienated from ‘elite culture,’ who feel embattled by cultural trends that they cannot control and do not at all like, and who often feel looked down upon by those with more education or higher social status.”

"But I am not sure if that is because they are Christians..." David Gushee said. Well, Mr. Gushee, I have an altogether different take on that statement which may be something that you would not care to discuss. I think it is their 'believing' brain that is ripe for rumor, innuendo, gossip and propaganda.

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